Parents were visibly frustrated by the Gauteng education department’s online registration system for pupils entering grades 1 and 8 on Tuesday.
After their children were still not placed in schools of their choice, scores of parents flocked to the department’s district offices in Pimville, Soweto, to seek clarity.
They told News24 that the online application system inconvenienced them.
Some complained that the department placed their children at schools they had not chosen, adding that the schools were far from where they lived.
Others said they were sent from pillar to post even though they applied on time.
They are worried that their children will miss school days while waiting to be placed.
Patrick Mashosho wanted his Grade 8 son, Gift, to attend Nirvana High School in Lenasia, but he was allocated space in Zuurbekom, outside Soweto.
“Gift started and completed his primary school in Lenasia and I wanted him to continue learning in Lenasia. I applied for space at Nirvana High School which is close to his former school.
“I wanted him to continue learning in Lenasia which is close to our home and where transport is convenient. Now he has been allocated space at a school in Zuurbekom [and] I don’t even know where it is situated.
“How is my child going to travel to and from Zuurbekom? Who is going to take him to and from school? I don’t think there is scholar transport going to that school,” said Mashosho.
He criticised the system and said parents should be able to choose schools for their children.
“I have been to these district offices many times raising this issue and no one is willing to assist me. The system is undermining us as parents,” he said.
Another parent, Tebogo Tshingwala, described the online process as pathetic.
His family relocated to Lenasia South last year and he applied for a space for his Grade 8 son at a local high school.
However, his son was allocated space at a school in Pimville.
“How is my son going to travel from our home to Soweto daily? Who will be looking after him when he travels to and from school?
“How can they give him space in Pimville which is far from home? This system is a shame,” he said.
Tshingwala also complained that he had been to the district offices several times but was not assisted.
“We have been sent from pillar to post without success. We are always being told to accept any offer the department is giving us, despite our complaints,” he said.
Xolani Khumalo said he wanted his son to start Grade 1 at a school in Lenasia which his other son attends.
However, he has been placed at a school in Protea Glen where he lives.
“I didn’t want my younger son to learn in Protea Glen. If I wanted him to go there, I would have applied for that school in Protea Glen. I want my children to attend the same school and use the same transport.
“I don’t want them to separate. How am I going to attend parents’ meetings in separate schools in case they are called on the same day? It is our choice to choose a school we want for our children – not for the department to forcefully give us schools we don’t want,” he said.
He added that he appealed the decision.
Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi earlier told the media that he understood parents’ frustrations.
“The pain is real, and I can feel it. Their pain is unbearable, and I can feel that too. I have assigned a team and this matter will be addressed. I can take insults and frustrations. With everything we are doing, there is no element of favouritism, corruption and undermining the stature of our children.
“We are not dumping our children. Overall, I am deeply sorry if I have placed parents in situations. They feel that the department is not caring. I am deeply sorry,” said Lesufi.
Late registration will be open from midnight on Tuesday midnight until January 24.